First county in Virginia’s Tidewater bans fracking

(© Laura Downey)

Richmond County’s unanimous vote last night to ban oil and gas drilling and fracking sends a clear message that localities have a strong interest in protecting their land and water from risky land uses. The decision last night in Richmond County, located in the Taylorsville Basin, was based on scientific evidence of the risks posed to communities from industrial gas development.

“More and more science is confirming that gas drilling and fracking pose serious health and safety risks to communities,” said SELC Attorney Kristin Davis. “We applaud the Board of Supervisors for making its own decision on the best way to protect its residents and rural communities, drinking water, and environment.

Richmond County now joins Augusta as the second county in Virginia to ban fracking outright. Its vote last night also follows the actions of nearby King George County which, in August of 2016, voted to protect 91 percent of the county from fracking-related activity.

Both Richmond and King George counties are along the Rappahannock River and the impact of fracking on both the river and communities’ drinking water was a big factor in their decisions. This year the Rappahannock River was named to the list of America’s Most Endangered Rivers because of industry's threat of expanding fracking operations in the Taylorsville Basin, which would require drilling through the Potomac Aquifer.

SELC and the Friends of the Rappahannock filed comments with the Richmond County Board of Supervisors supporting this change to the zoning ordinance.

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